To Loricraft users

After much consideration and I decided to take the plunge and now I'm a proud owner of a PRC 2.5, and have a couple of questions for those of you who have lived with your machines for a while.

a) Did any one experience the crumbling bottle syndrome? The plastic bottle that came with my unit folded from the pressure of the suction. I hooked it up to the side of the machine with the hook supplied, but after 2-3 days use, the bottle gave way.

b) It is possible to clean the LP on both sides (inside-out, and outside-in). Has anyone compared both methods and found either method more effective?

c) How many drops of cleaning solution do you use for each side? I've found that about 8-10 drops is sufficient and does not leave any droplets on the plinth even with the high speed platter revolution.

d) Does anyone else use 0g tracking force?
a) Mine came with a glass bottle. I'd contact Smart Developments and tell them you're not happy with this "upgrade".

b) I've tried both ways. It made no difference that I could tell. All the arm is doing is vacuuming. It's not cleaning in the sense of "scrubbing", the string is larger than a record groove and it tends to lie across the grooves anyway. I always do inside-out, it lets the arm vacuum the lead-in grooves right to the edge a bit better.

c) With RRL I run a single bead across the music portion of the grooves. That's all you need, and it prevents spraying, as you found.

d) I've never tried it at 0g. How would the nozzle stay on the record with no downforce? At 70+ rpm the first warp would launch it into orbit! FWIW I use about 1.6g. If you go much heavier the thread can visibly score the vinyl.

One tip: leave the pump running between sweeps and move the arm off the back of the machine so it sucks air. This helps keep the tube dry and prevents the thread from jamming up.
Hi Doug

Thanks for your replies and mails, good user advice which is always welcomed.

a) I got my unit in Singapore, not from Smart Developments, so pls don't chastise them - LOL. It would be good for Loricraft to go back to the glass bottle though.

b) At 0g, the pressure from the suction is sufficient to keep the nozzle on the record till it reaches the lead in groove, thereafter the arm just floats off the record. This recommendation came from a VA user who saw a demo by the Loricraft folks in UK. I've tried it and it works.

Thanks for the tip.
Maybe try using a Nalgene bottle.
Hi Cmk,

Your experience beats my theory any day. I'll try lighter VTF myself, thanks. Hmmm, I wonder if -.5g would work!

The glass jar I got was like the ones used for canning tomatoes and fruit. I'll wager you could find one of those for next to nothing and transfer the hose fittings pretty easily. Nalgene would also be strong enough of course.
Actually, the original glass jar was a mayonase jar that they thought was a proper size. I would use glass, but you will have to do some work on the cap, of course.

I thought the pull was to draw the arm outward. How can you use it from the outside inward?

I found that 0 tracking force gives me the best vacuuming. The vacuum does draw it to the record surface.

I use an atomiser to spray cleaning fluid on. I use the new AudioTop fluid.

This unit works better and more reliably than the Keith Monks that I once owned.
Tbg, as a happy and experienced AudioTop user, would you be willing to help me understand where I may have gone wrong with it? My experience with it, while by no means bad, has not been quite as wonderful as yours. This may have to do with the fact that I am playing my records on a not quite so fabulous turntable (Rega P3) or with the fact that I am using the Vinyl 1 all by itself (unable as I am to talk myself into paying $350 for the whole system) or perhaps with the fact that, with Vinyl 1 running $150 a bottle, I can't quite bring myself to use it as lavishly as perhaps it needs to be used--and as it is quite volatile, it does seem to want to be used *very* lavishly. Although the directions call for it to be left on the record surface for a couple of minutes, unless I spill quite a bit on--and by quite a bit I mean two or three times as much as I would use of an RRL fluid--it evaporates before its soaking time is up. Because of its volatility too I refrain from scrubbing with DD brushes--too much surface area for the fluid to evaporate from--but try to get by with LAST brushes instead. Even so, given the time it takes for the Loricraft head to traverse the radius of the record, I am not always sure there is significant fluid to be vacuumed up by the time the head reaches the record's periphery and fear that the fluid has largely evaporated, leaving its load of too briefly dissolved junk behind.

Does any of this correspond to your experience at all? And how ever in the world do you manage to use the AudioTop in an atomiser without having it all evaporate before it hits the record?

Yes, Vinyl1 is volatile. Vinyl2 is much more volatile, however. Are you speaking of Vinyl1, the cleaner? I have found 8 spritzes will allow me to use the brush and go around perhaps ten times. I use an old Optrix bottle for this. I do not pay attention to the leave on 3 minute routine for the reason you say. Also I gave up on the DD brushes for the reason you say. I do use the nylon brush provided.

I too worry about the lead in grooves, but I have found that I can see that liquid is being removed by the vacuum to the edge.

Perhaps having greater humidity in Texas explains my having less problem with evaporation.

I must say, also, that the Vinyl2 adds significantly to extracting the music most fully.

Too bad this stuff is so damn expensive. It far surpasses anything else I have tried.
The outside-in method is like playing LPs, place the arm at the start of the LP, not on the side past the spindle. The arm will still move from left to right.

In practice I've found that the inside-out method produces the best results.
Tbg, yes, it is the cleaner alone of the AudioTop system that I am using. I would have liked to try the Vinyl 2, but I doubted I would be able to get it onto the record surface before it evaporated, and the price made experimentation impracticable. Probably I should either have gone whole hog or stayed away completely, and between the two the latter would have made more sense, since other things about my system need more urgent attention than the last degree of perfection in vinyl cleaning. But cleaning, at least as I find myself doing it, is sufficiently laborious that I want to do it right once and for all, not so much so for the sake of the difference I can hear now (though of course that matters) as for the sake of the difference I hope I may be able to hear later with whatever I end up getting to take the Rega's place. Already the thought of all those lps I cleaned when I was first starting out, when I believed a single brief scrubbing was all they needed, weighs upon me. How common is it, I wonder, for people to clean their records to the imaginary standard of a system they don't have yet and may indeed never have?

I can well believe that AudioTop behaves more reasaonably in Texas. Here (Buffalo) it's 2 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and if I hadn't been simmering a pot of beans all afternoon the air would be like broken glass.
Ops, correction, I meant the arm will move from right to left. Eeek, brain thinking faster than fingers type...
Sre, I may have cleaned records a second time with the same record cleaner, but it is very rare. I did discover, however, that records I had cleaned with VPI machines are much improved using the Loricraft and then further improved now that I have the AudioTop.

Yes, you have to be very quick using Vinyl2. Fortunately the speed of the Loricraft assures that you will get at least several rotations before the fluid is gone.

As I type this morning the relative humidity is 34% inside. This may well be a limitation on the AudioTop chemicals.
Cmk and Tbg,

I tried it. 0g downforce I mean.

It works great! Of course you already knew that.

Thanks for the tip.
I sold my VPI 16.5 and took delivery of a Loricraft PCR3 3 days ago. I made the change mainly because of concerns related to transferring contaminants from record to record. The Loricraft solves that problem in the vacuuming step by using a moving string as the contact point between record and vacuum nozzle. The VPI has nylon strips on a vacuum tube that contact repeatedly each successive record, potentially spreading dirt, and if the record came from a dirty enough environment, brown tar like goo. I think the Loricraft does a better job in the vacuuming step, concentrating its power at one point rather than spreading it out over a tube the width of a record. But the problem still remains of your cleaning brushes and if you are cleaning a really dirty record, spreading the bad stuff to the next one. How do you Loricraft users address this, or am I being too concerned?

Something I miss from the VPI is the ability to use the vacuum port to clean the brushes. I would (thanks to 4yanx for this) vacuum the brushes (and vacuum tubes contact area)after each record and every fourth record rinse them with their respective fluid (RRL SDC or SVW) and then vacuum them. So I at least felt like I was keeping those items clean. With the Loricraft I’m looking at my brushes after a couple records thinking I wish I could vacuum off whatever is on there.

So I’m still in the trial stage. It’s a beautiful machine and it gets more of the fluid off the record I’m sure, but I don’t know yet if it’s worth the cost. I cleaned some older records with it that were a little noisy after the VPI and they still were after the Loricraft. These are 40 years old and it’s probably not dirt causing the ticks and crackle. I don’t know for sure, but those and other records may have sounded a little better in some nebulous way that I’m not able to identify.
I rinse the nylon brush with distilled water occasionally. I had to stop using the DD brushes as the AudioTop evaporates too quickly to use them.

I certainly have records that the Loricraft fails to remove all pops, but I frequently find that records previously cleaned with the VPI sound more transparent once cleaned on the Loricraft.
If a record is obviously grungy I do a first cleaning pass with RRL Deep Cleaner and a Last brush. That removes the worst of the junk before I use the good DD brushes.

It's not hard to rinse a Last brush and even vacuum it with the Loricraft nozzle, and they're cheap enough to toss when they get soiled.

Like Tbg I rinse the DD brushes periodically during a cleaning session. I then brush them off using the long-bristled Loricraft brush, which I don't find useful for anything else except spreading Premier spray cleaner.
Congrats Jeff
May I suggest you give the fluid a little more time to soak into the grooves and use the Loricraft brush to scrub a bit.

I don't use RRL or SVW, but on the first cleaning, I will use a detergent - just 2 drops, with an alcohol solution, which I find helps to remove whatever grudge was there - there's some foam but not much.

Then the 2nd rinse/clean with the Buggtussel Vinyl Zyme Gold, to remove whatever was left by the first wash and to protect the LP surface.

I've not found a single LP which does not benefit from this thorough cleaning, even new LPs cleaned previously on the VPI sound better after the Loricraft. There is more subtle detail in the instruments, vocals, little things you didn't notice before suddenly appear.

Now I'm so used to it that if I don't hear the same level of detail, I will clean the LP again. Repeated cleanings do help, even with the Loricraft.
I may have an incompatibility between my Loricraft and the AudioTop Vinyl One. The cleaner is excellent but is volatile. Even using a good amount in the time that it takes to use a brush on the record and the time for the Loricraft to vacuum off the fluid, there is little on the led in grooves. I tend to get pops and clicks on the led in grooves especially on old previously uncleaned records. I have few problems on new records. Overall, I find the AudioTop superior to any other cleaners I have used, namely that it gives more resolution to records previously cleaner with other products.

I have tried using distiled water as a rinse after cleaning and before I put AudioTop 2 on. It is very volatile and needs no vacuuming. The Vinyl One package discourages this, but it works.

Anyone out there also using AudioTop Vinyl One with the Loricraft?
Loricraft plus AudioTop Vinyl One is one of the combinations I've used. But I tend to keep the AudioTop for special occasions--such as when amnesia strikes. The volatility is a headache. Really the AudioTop people ought to sell the stuff with a special hyperbaric chamber to use it in.
Do you agree that it is better? I really don't think Vinyl one is all that bad, but cleaning and then vacuuming with the Loricraft is a problem. What do you use instead?
AudioTop Vinyl One is certainly very good. I've been doing informal experiments for some months now, keenly conscious of how difficult it is (because one can't do an original cleaning to the very same record side twice in a row) to know just what it is that one is comparing: side 2 vs. side 1? One Bosendorfer vs. a different Bosendorfer? 2nd cleaning vs. 1st? DD brush vs. LAST brush? A truly controlled experiment is impossible.

Because of the outrageous cost of the AudioTop I'd been using it quite sparingly in these experiments, which meant that it remained on the record only a fraction of the recommended time. Used thus sparingly, it seemed sometimes to make a difference, but a small one--and even then I wasn't sure whether the difference I was hearing was due to the AudioTop or something else. On the other hand, I've also been keenly aware than my Rega P3 isn't doing any of my records, no matter how beautifully cleaned, any favors, and that what may come through as trivial differences in my system could very well, with a more reasonable turntable, sound entirely different and worth every penny. When I've used the AudioTop, it's been in part as a gesture towards a utopian future in which my contemptible P3 will be no more. But most of the time, facing the possibility that the P3 may be all I'll ever be able to manage, I've stuck with my basic cleaning routine: carbon fiber brushing, Premier spray, second carbon fiber brushing, RRL Super Deep Cleaner scrubbed around with DD brush and Loricrafted off, RRL Super Vinyl Wash scrubbed around with second DD brush and Loricrafted off, and and another carbon fiber brushing at the turntable.

But today, nudged on by your question, Tbg, I decided to put aside my horror at the cost of the AudioTop and use it as lavishly as I needed to keep the record surface wet for the requisite couple of minutes. When I did that (calculating all the while how much of my salary was evaporating poisonously into my lungs even as I stood there) the difference it made was more clearly audible than I had ever heard it before. I applied it (using a LAST brush) twice, first as a third step following the Premier and RRL routine, then (on the reverse side of the record) immediately following the Premier and with no intervening RRL washes. Both times I listened to the same bit of record between each step, pre- and post-AudioTop. And then I listened to the two sides (different instrumentation and different dynamics, of course) side by side. It was clear that using AudioTop was better than not using AudioTop. But since side one (the RRLed side) and side two (the nonRRLed side) sounded entirely different even aside from how they were cleaned, it wasn't clear that using AudioTop instead of RRL (as opposed to in addition to it) was the winning choice.

So then I went back to side two (Premier and AudioTop but no RRL) and did the RRL plus DD brush. This made further improvement. Was the improvement due to the RRL? To the the DD scrubbing? To the mere fact of additional cleaning? Who could tell? So then I went and did yet another AudioTop cleaning (the second on this side). But there the experiment died. I couldn't hear any more differences. Maybe the AudioTop had already done all it could do; maybe the RRL (on top of the first round of AudioTop) had left the second AudioTop nothing to do; perhaps playing that poor bit of record half a dozen different times had finally taken an audible toll, or perhaps the improvement had simply passed out of range of what the P3 could register. I have no idea. Nor do I know what lesson to take away from this, except perhaps for the impractical one to do still more cleanings (of whatever kind) than I already do.

I really would like to know the answer, but at least until I upgrade I think it's going to remain out of my reach. Anybody else want to try?

Susan, wow, I would say that you made every effort to evaluate this. I guess my experiences are equally confusing, as we seldom get ceteris paribus.